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ALFREDO RELAÑO

A Clásico show very much to American tastes

Update:

Barcelona won the Clásico in Miami, which between the organisation and the teams managed to put on a spectacle very much to American tastes. The game had plenty of action and goals, some moments of magic (mostly from Barça) and a half-time performance by Marc Anthony, with a stage and lights show worthy of a Super Bowl. It was “soccer” played out to US preferences, which is exactly what Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had in mind when he decided to host the event. And all this even without Cristiano Ronaldo, whose absence denied organisers the complete shebang. LFP chief Javier Tebas can declare himself satisfied: the presentation of his star product, El Clásico, now a universal brand, exceeded expectations. LaLiga is already considering more of the same…

For Barça, the 3-2 victory was at last a piece of good news in a summer that had brought little cheer to Camp Nou. The club haven’t signed anyone (Nelson Semedo aside), they haven’t sold any surplus players and on top of it all Neymar appears destined to leave. Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu has finally accepted the reality of the situation and has threatened to report PSG to Fifa for thumbing their noses at Financial Fair Play regulations. I think there are genuine motives but I’m not sure the complaint will prosper. I am not optimistic. In any case, it will be a shame if Neymar does depart, in the form that he is currently in, and at an age when he still retains the limber muscles of a youngster but at the same time has achieved maturity in his game. He has put in three incredible performances during Barça’s US tour.

On the other hand, this International Champions Cup competition has left Madrid in the doldrums. One draw in three games and verification ahead of the season that the bbC should be written like that, with only the C in caps. Far from the Sun God, Bale and Benzema are distant planets. And I still believe that Pepe’s departure has not been compensated for. He was quick, he was strict (a euphemism of course) and he was expert. Only Sergio Ramos of Real’s current central defensive options is all three and if he absent (as in the opening two games) or not at 100 percent (as against Barcelona) there is too much inexperience in his stead. Cristiano will be back, but what I don’t know if is there is a cure for the back. The years go by and Raphael Varane still lacks the necessary bite.